Cloughjordan’s Community

Stories and storytelling are a important part of Irish culture. As one person told me, “If you have no story to tell, then what good are you here?” After all, stories are a part of our everyday lives and culture. There are many elements to a story: things we use to characterize a story, the places in which it took place, the people one has encountered, and the dialogue that took place. Stories can form new relationships or help make current ones stronger. They bring people together and build a community. Storytelling humanizes, it allows people to find similarities, and differences, and get to know one another in a personal and natural way. Stories are to be found throughout Ireland’s culture through their songs, poetry, dance, and history. An Irish community is based on storytelling and people getting to know one another. I realized just how interconnected Ireland’s culture is with story and song when I walked into Grace’s Pub.

        Cloughjordan is a small and quiet village, where the locals know one another by name and visitors stick out like sore thumbs. One night we went to Grace’s Pub to take in the culture of live Irish music. The community that took place in this pub was beautiful. This live music was nothing like typical live music. These people were locals sitting around in a circle playing their instruments and making music simply because they love doing it. There were no crowds, stage, light, or performance taking place. It was simply people who do something with their community the established through playing music. One man told me, “the beauty of this is that even if there wasn’t one person in this pub to listen to them they would still be here playing. They just love to play.” When he said that I thought of field hockey and what it meant to me. It wasn’t the crowd at the games that made me want to play but the feeling I got when I played. Being a part of a team was a community, the girls I played with I loved because we were doing something we all loved, and doing it together makes the sport.

        The Cloughjordan community was truly amazing. All of the locals respected one another and played to do something that they love; in a community they love. Throughout the night, one by one, someone would sing and have their little solo. Everyone playing would stop talking or playing, to pay attention to the person during their solo. The respect they had for one another built the sense of community. Their songs they shared were poems and stories passed down from Irish culture and literature. They used their community to keep the Cloughjordan community alive through their love for music and respect for one another.

Killary’s Mussel Farm

After our day of shearing sheep and cutting bog; our next destination was a mussel farm. “Just walk along the dirt road for about ten minutes and then you will be there,” yelled Tom to the group of us that were leading. At the end of the dirt road we saw mountains in the distance, water below it, and a wall that met the water. A soft breeze came from the Killary Fjord, cooling us off from the walk.

Dog’s Life

We were greeted with slobbery kisses from a golden retriever named Juno. After taking our seats at the picnic table we met Kate, the owner of Killary’s Mussel Farm. She was a wonderful woman who fed us oysters, clams, mussels, salmon, and warm brown bread.

Kate’s Oysters

After we finished eating the delicious foods that Kate had provided for us, Simon took us out on the boat. He took us out where they harvest the mussels. He told us that they were still shy of two years, so they will not be ready for harvesting until July. It is important that they do not harvest their mussels too soon, so the ecosystem does not get out of balance. When the mussels grow for about a year, Simon and his crew, go into the ropes and clear off about thirty-five percent of the undergrown mussels to allow them to continue to grow on the rope.

Simon’s Mussels

Killary Mussel Farm used to export all of their mussels, clams and oysters to France and support French restaurants, until recently. To support Ireland and its local businesses Killary Mussel Farm now send all of their harvested mussels to surround cities and towns in Ireland. All restaurants but one in Westport, Ireland, County Mayo now serve Killary’s mussels. Killary Mussel Farm refined their focus from exporting their good to other countries; to supporting and providing for Irish markets and restaurants.

Ireland focuses on reading nature and the habitat they live in. Killary Mussel Farm does not take mussels out of the water before they are finished developing. In America over fishing and hunting are huge problems that are causing ecosystems to be destroyed. Ireland does not over harvest and put their own needs in front of species growth rate. Killary Mussel Farm harvested mussels in a way that did not disrupt the nature cycle of nature.

Water Boat

Ireland’s landscapes consist of bright fields of green and deep blue waters.The Aran Islands are surrounded by light blue, very clear water. We arrived at our hostel in Inis Oirr and the first thing I noticed were the signs about wasting water. One of the flyers read “Water shortage on this island. Reduce water usage. Flush when needed.” My initial thought was that the hostel was trying to reduce the water bill, but the words “water shortage” made me question it. When I was walking back from the store one morning, I saw two ferries in a line, along the dock, and then an unfamiliar boat in front of them. This boat had no seats for passengers; instead it had a large basin on it. I did not know why it was there or what it was for, so I started to talking to Eoghan Poil, the man who produced and sold fudge on the island. Eoghan informed me that it was their water boat. This boat was how the island got their source of water. It traveled back and forth, from Inis Oirr to Galway, twice a day to deliver water to the island. The island uses this water system because it does not receive direct water fom the mainland.

Eoghan explained the political change in the past with the water industry and how it left the Irish people upset. What I found was interesting was that their electricity came to the island in the 2000s. The way their electricity is connected to the mainland is a setup that is under Galway Bay. The fudge man said that it would make sense to have the water and electricity both be delivered from under Galway Bay. Eoghan said “the Irish government will not go out of their way to change something that does not need to be changed, so there will not be a change until someone takes initiative.” I was shocked by the way Eoghan was so laid back about the change that was needed for a more reliable water system.

I later asked Linda about the water shortage on the island and how it affects living here and running a hostel. Linda said “as of now they are not in a water crisis so there are no set times when the water on the island is shut down, but we could find out tomorrow, next week or next month, that they will put on a water ban.” In the past, whenever the island was in a water crisis the water on the island would shut down from seven at night to seven in the morning. Linda was also very laid back and relaxed about the water situation on the island because she grew up with it. It became second nature to her, dealing with this water method and running a hostel in these conditions. The water situation is not looked at as a problem, but more of something that is the way it is.

Peat’s Place

Standing at the Craggaunowen Heritage site, our first stop in Ireland, there was a very distinct smell in the air. I had never smelt it before and could not figure out what it was. As we moved further along in the tour we came up to a fire pit. This fire pit looked no different from a fire in the states, but the smell it was that distinct smell I had been smelling earlier. Stiofan, our tour guide, quickly informed us that this fire source was not wood, but it was peat. Peat is used throughout all of Ireland because it is a natural resource here that rich in many fields. Peat is found in the bogs of Ireland and formed over thousands of years. When we ventured to Killary’s Sheep Farm, Tom the owner of the property brought us over to a bog and explained it in greater detail. Peat is found in Ireland due to its climate. A bog is formed over thousands of years and has grown on top of trees like birch and pine that once were on the land before.

Peat’s Fire

Peat is made from grass and Sphagnum moss that builds up on top of each other over thousands of years and begin to compress. Sphagnum moss is unique to Ireland that grows one millimeter a year. It is a very wet compacted surface that is very acidic from all the rain water. To harvest the peat from a bog, farmers use a tool that cuts a brick of peat from the bog so they can put it on the grass for the sun to dry it out. A peat brick consist of 90 percent of water. So the farmers have to let them dry it before they are able to be used.

One brick of peat takes fifteen minutes to burn in a fire. Throughout a household in one day, 96 peat bricks are burnt. When peat is burnt it releases CO2 into the air. Bogs act like a carbon sink because it absorbs the CO2 in the air. When people burn the peat the CO2 is released back into the air resulting in a negative impact on the environment. Peat is Ireland’s number one energy source due to its accessibility and its abundance. Since Ireland has limited trees throughout their terrain, it is important that the bogs absorb the CO2 from the air. From people harvesting the turf and collecting peat for their energy source it cut back on the amount of CO2 being absorbed through the bogs and releases CO2 back into the air. Peat is a highly used energy source in Ireland and the government needs to start regulating the maximum usage of for the better of our planet.

Hard Work Provides Food

Before this trip to Ireland, people would make remarks to me like, “oh good luck in Ireland, all of the food is so bland” and “all you will be eating in potatoes and bread.” I thought the food here would consist of: corn beef and cabbage, potatoes, stews, and bread. From my experience here I have witnessed their wide use of potatoes but also foods found in other cultures.  I was also surprised to see some foods on the menu like: curry, Thai stir fry dishes, Italian pasta dishes, kabobs, and Indian foods. What is not addressed or known back in America; is how fresh the food in Ireland is, the work that is put into producing these foods, and the concept behind the making, processing, and waste of the foods.

Ireland is a very sophisticated with their strides towards becoming an eco friendly country. Ireland believes in the “farm to fork” way of producing and gathering foods. The work put into making these food is an extensive, strenuous task. One site we went to was the Ecovillage in Cloughjordan. At the Ecovillage we met a man named Bruce, who had a project called “RED Garden.” In this project he uses seven different garden beds to develop and experiment with different ways to garden.

Bruce’s Market

He provides fresh produce for his community daily and does not produce the vegetables to sell and make money off them, but to live out the “farm to fork” concepts. Bruce, as well as the people in the community, emphasized the importance of eating fresh, naturally produced vegetables.

Another site we visited that I got to see their work ethics and process firsthand was Killary’s Mussel Farm. When we first got there we were greeted with a warm welcome and homemade brown bread. They fed us oysters, clams, and mussels. It was the best, freshest seafood I had ever tasted. We went onto their mussel boat, where Simon described mussel farming. After understanding the process of mussel farming Simon pulled up the lines and showed us the process of gathering all of the mussels too.

Ireland uses their land and tools to produce fresh and clean food. Throughout my trip in Ireland, I have been served lasagna, curry, salmon, hake, prawn, steak, chicken, and many other delicious meals. The food here has been so fresh and natural. From using the “farm to fork” way of producing food, Ireland has also developed the mentality not to waste food. Many of the hostels we have stayed at throughout this trip have separated waste into categories; “clean recyclable,” “dirty recyclable,” “trash,” and “compost.” Compost is a mix of all leftover food that was not eaten and is reused to be turned into a natural, and healthier version of fertilizer. Ireland’s farmers put in hard work to produce foods that are locally grown and fresh. The people of Ireland have recognized the fact that food can be reused into compose for a better fertilizer for future produce being produced. This acknowledgement and appreciation for food Ireland has really is an eye-opener to what other countries should mimic and live by.

Dear Erin…

The following is a work of fiction based on recent events and experiences in Ireland.

My dearest twin,

I miss you and wish you were here for the summer, instead of the states. I hope you are enjoying University of California and that the sunshine is treating you well. Ireland’s weather has been impeccable the last couple of weeks, we have had lots of sun. The sunshine made this past bank holiday weekend amazing! I took the ferry to Inis Oirr with Meabh, Anna, Maggie, and Josie. When we got to the island it was packed, you wouldn’t believe the crowds. We met some island lads who were workers at the B&B we were staying at. They invited us to go to the beach with them so we decided why not.

We headed to the beach but they told us, “come this way, we aren’t going to the main beach.” So we followed figuring they knew another beach less crowded. We walked up through the village along a stone wall that looked as if it continued forever. We came along a narrow dirt path that lead higher up in the village. As our altitude rose we could see all of the village. It was such a beautiful sight. It looked as it was a setting from a scene in a movie. They came to a stop at the end of the road and began to put their stuff down. I began to look around for a beach thinking I did not see a single beach or trace of one this whole walk.

Before I knew it one lad ran right past me and jumped off of the cliff with his arms soaring beside him. I couldn’t believe it! Then one by one, they all were jumping. I looked at the girls thinking these lads are crazy. They began to yell, “jump in the water it’s beautiful!” They were all in the water swimming and horsing around with each other. The water was crystal clear and looked beautiful.

I wanted to jump in but looking down over the edge I got butterflies. It was about a 20 feet from the water. My mind was telling me to just jump in, it will be fun and it is safe; but my body would not move off of the edge. Then without any explanation, I got a rush of adrenaline. I closed my eyes and jumped. I was in the air with my arms spread wide, feeling so free. I plummeted into the water about three feet under. The feeling of submerging into this cold but so clear water was amazing. I used my arms to bring myself to the surface and was greeted with the feeling of the warm sun on my face. Jumping off of the cliff was such a feeling of freedom. It was amazing! When you get home we have to come out here, so you can jump too. I felt so fearless and free from jumping.

I cannot wait to see you soon and to hear back from you.

Much love,


About Erin Clancy

I never enjoyed academics like math, English, and science. I did fairly well in all of my classes, but I never felt confident in any of them. The only classes I enjoyed going to were my art classes. I loved drawing, painting, sculpture and any other classes offered that allowed me to make art. When I was a junior in high school one of my art teachers told me “if you love what you do one day, you won’t work a day in your life.” From then on, my mind was set to work in the field of art. When I first started looking at schools I was focusing on schools with strong art programs. I decided that I wanted to go into fine arts and find a job after school from there. I didn’t put much thought into what I would do but I wanted to make art and do something I loved. As I toured schools, graphic design was always a program schools emphasized throughout their department. I learned more about graphic design and the career opportunities; that I decided that this was the form of art I was going to pursue. When choosing schools, I was constantly back and forth about if I wanted to go to Roger Williams; to take part in the college campus lifestyle and play field hockey, or if I wanted to go to Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I choose Roger Williams because their program, atmosphere, and study abroad opportunities. Graphic Design requires to take electives in another field of study and I choose communication. I took my two required communication classes for the graphic design requirement but ended up really enjoying communications. I decided to continue to take communication courses and eventually declared Communications & Media Studies as my second major. Communications has made me much more aware of the world around me.

Places: Lynn, Boston, Massachusetts, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Bristol, Rhode Island, Washington D. C., Montréal, Canada, New York City

Schools: Sisson Elementary School, St. Pius V School, Bishop Fenwick High School, Roger Williams University

Jobs: Newspaper Delivery, Babysitter, Pizza Restaurant Counter Girl, Golf Shop Attendant,


Favorites: Beach, Family, Friends, Painting, Drawing, Running, Field Hockey, Music, Chipotle, Guacamole, Dancing, Watermelon, Boston, Sundays

These nouns give a lot of information about where I have been, my experience I have gained throughout life, my hobbies and interest. What is not communicated through these nouns is why they are my favorite things, the experiences I had with them, and the feelings I have towards each noun. Having a conversation with a stranger definitely revolves around nouns. When you talk to a stranger, or someone new, people find similarities or common ground. Nouns are used for finishing common ground and having that new stranger seem relatable to you. These nouns spark common interest or experiences, that will evoke more conversation and a better knowing of one another.

The common themes throughout my life have included family and trying new experiences. I come from a family of seven, so family is a huge part of everything I do. I am the fourth of five children, so a lot of what I have done, in the past, has been simply because one of my siblings did it. The older I get the more I want to start my own path and explore new opportunities. I love trying new things and coming up with new ideas. While I am young my goal is to continue to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way, even if it’s foreign from what I am use to. I chose my major and the nouns in my autobiography because they describe me and what has influenced my life.